Saturday, October 22, 2011

jus chillin

We have been in Charleston for the past two weeks while Jeannie attends to some family matters on the west coast and I have been working on the boat doing chores, reading and generally enjoying the wonderful weather of autumn in Charleston SC.

Our trip from Morehead city was a bit longer because a series of fronts that affected the offshore weather which had most boats running the ICW. We are in that pattern where tropical waves or worse work their way up the east coast and we start to get cold fronts from the north headed south. But for the most part its been warm and only a few days where it was chilly enough to need to wear warmer clothing.

We stayed in the Morehead Yacht Basin, which is our preferred over night stop.  Currents are manageable, great protected harbor and floating docks, with easy in and out. We held up here for two days last Spring as a gale blew through.

We departed bright and early as you can see by the picture of the lovely phosphorous depot. We encounter tugs and barges all the time hauling phosphorous for industrial uses.

This section of the ICW is one of our least favorite, for two reasons: first, there are four bridges whose timed openings are very challenging to coordinate. Two of them are openings on the hour, missing them is quite a wait and two are on the half hour. To work this we do frequent speed, distance and time calculations to work it right. While it might seem fairly straight forward there are so many small inlets that the currents change often and a two knot current will slow us down a bit or speed us up.

The second issue is Camp Lejune, the big Marine Corps base in NC. The ICW cuts through the camp on the western edge and the camp's barrier islands which are used mostly for infantry and artillery exercises. Not usually a good idea to go through this section during live fire drills. Right at the entrance there is a guard tower and a sign with flashing lights, if an exercise is active. The ICW is closed until this is over. Two years ago we were stopped here and dropped anchor. Thinking it would be several hours, they let us pass after 45 min. Certainly makes the day longer if you are caught here for a time. As we turned the bend and we caught sight of the tower and lights and saw they were off and breathed a sigh of relief. No sooner than we thought ourselves fortunate than they turned on the Danger Do Not Enter Light...damn...
After five min or so of trying to hail the Navy boats that provide security to the waterway with no answer and no way of knowing how long we would be held up here (we could see Marines in the tower), I called the Coast Guard who thoughtfully called the range officer and were told we could proceed at best possible speed, which I take means to hurry, which we did. It is a five mile trip through this part of the Camp/ICW to the next bridge. The pictures above are the training areas where you can see various targets.
There are also some quite beautiful areas as well, aside from the shot up targets it is quite undeveloped.

We encounter tugs all the time, they are either pushing or towing a barge and that configuration can take many shapes some with long cables astern. It is good to know the rules of the road and good seamanship. We have seen some pretty wild things people would do out of ignorance and in the process possibly putting themselves and others at risk.
It is important to remember tugs have a lot of momentum when underway and cannot stop, start or change course quickly. They often have deep drafts with limited ability to navigate in narrow channels.
We monitor marine radio channels 16 and 13 and depending on the state, bridges can be hailed on either 13 or 9.  We have become accustomed to "tug talk" it has an accent all its own and talks in the work boat jargon. It is much easier if you know the rules and how to work out approaches for overtaking or passing.
We have the added benefit of a class A AIS which will plot the target on our chartplotter and radar with the vessels name SOG (speed over ground), COG (course over ground) and similar data. In this case we hailed the captain by vessel name and worked out what he wanted us to do and wished him a good day.
What made this one so interesting was how long it was. He was pulling a dredge, related equipment as well as 2000 ft of dredge pipe. We had a hard time of getting it all in a single shot and still be able to make out any detail.

We always get a kick out of dolphins who like to play in our wake. We do not travel fast typically a slow 8.5 kts and they like to ride our bow wave. This is the first pair of the season a bit more north than we would have thought but always fun.

There is always the typical birds about the water way but keep a running bird list of everything we see. So far we have seen 5 bald eagles, more on this trip than any previous one a thrill to be sure. We have also seen many kingfishers so many in fact that we speculate they must be migrating.

                        We just love shrimp so of course it is fun watching shrimp boats.

We came across a fleet of 8 returning to there home port in McClellansville, SC. It was quite a sight to see them coming in through the lower country marshes. We anchored about 5miles south of here on Awendaw Creek SC at mm 435.6, a quiet and remote spot. Cooking out for a delightful dinner and enjoyable sunset.

Here are a few of our favorite homes of character along the waterway.

On the last day out before arriving in Charleston we had a warning alarm from our hydraulics which typically run at 110-115f. The alarm sounds at 140f as a warning only, we were not far from the marina so I turned on the intake fan which by chance blows directly on the hydraulic reservoir tank. This remarkably dropped the temp 20 degrees and the alarm went off but we need to find the reason and fix it.
We have a ABT Trac integrated hydraulics system. This is powered by 2 take offs (PTO) from the main engine, which powers the stabilizers, bow and stern thruster as well as the windlass. The cooling system  is straightforward with a hydraulically driven water pump from the sea chest, strainer basket to a sight wheel, heat exchanger and then overboard. The sight gauge (top of tank next to the top of the heat exchanger) has been sluggish and on my list to clean.  This could be any of the things I mentioned with the most obvious being strainer and or the impeller in the water pump. But not so.
When we got into port and could look it over the strainer was clean and the impeller looked fine but I replaced it anyway.  The overboard discharge was very sluggish and with what appeared to me to be not enough water going through the system. The water pump is actually three things, the hydraulic motor, a coupler and the impeller housing.
In the past others have noted the coupler can become stuck and need to be lubricated. Above is pictured the coupler between the motor and the impeller housing. It has a yellow bracket over it to prevent someone (me) from accidentally getting caught in it while it spins.
It was spinning ,but slowly, and no amount of lubrication changed this. Checking the overboard discharge was equally disappointing. The unit was not getting enough water flow to keep it cool.
I spoke with the ABT tech ( great guy and wonderful service) and he had me adjust the hydraulic flow to the pump.
The coolant flow control adjustment valve is shown above and it was a simple matter to change the hydraulic flow to the coolant pump while the engines are on and stabilizers were centered and locked. The recommendation is for 6-8g/min and about 1500 rpms. I do not have a rpm gun with me so did it by guess, will adjust it later on when I have the right tool but the worst that can happen is you go through impellers too fast. The tech did not seem worried by this, his recommendation was increase it but if you can hear the pump spinning above the engine room noise at idle, it is too fast. The overboard discharge is remarkably better.

Coming into Charleston is always fun and interesting;
 The Ft Lauderdale Baot show is next week so the mega yacht set is making it's way it's way south
Heck shouldn't we all have our car aboard? Ya never know when you need to get that extra gal of milk.
Now "our" preferred method of travel off the boat is walking or our bikes,  just sayin...

Our hurricane southbound restriction ends November 1st, so we will depart Charleston later next week. So it is time to continue to work the maintenance list, knock the cob webs off, re-provision and work out our navigation, while keeping an eye on the weather.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.